By Brendan Cole – Graduate Intern
Recently, many are aware of the death of singer Chester Bennington, who committed suicide this past month. From heartfelt social media posts to concerts dedicated in his name, the loss of the singer impacted the music world majorly.
According to the American Psychological Association, 2% of all deaths in the United States are due to suicides. It’s an epidemic that continuously causes severe pain, not only to the families and friends who are impacted but to the individual who got to that point in life where that was their only option. Suicide is not some instantaneous decision. Nor is it some completely random alteration to an individual’s brain. No, it’s a slow gradual climb of acceptance, usually dictated by an individual’s social community, environmental factors, and other extreme stressors. Furthermore, the American Psychological Association also explains how an unhealthy increase use of alcohol and drugs are contributor signs of mental illness and suicide.
In the past, Chester had previously mentioned his struggle with depression, alcohol, and his experience of being abused as a child by an older male. Furthermore, reports stated that there was no suicide note left behind. However, there was a half a bottle of wine in the room at the time of his death. Interesting enough, Chester’s death was on the birthday of one his good friends, Chris Cornell, who also committed suicide early that year. As previously mentioned, suicide is usually not a randomly instigated decision. While the symptoms of suicide may have been overlooked in Chester’s time alive, it is evident now there were indeed signs that led to the heartbreaking loss.
I haven’t been alive long, but during this time I have known three long-time old friends who have committed suicide. Each one of these individuals had the symptom of depression before they died. We are not talking about when you wake up in the morning feeling down, (because this does happen sometimes) but rather the complete brain pathway alteration where the chemical imbalance is so great an individual has an incredibly difficult time maintaining a healthy outlook on life or of themselves. Furthermore, depression is the feeling of absolute hopelessness and loneliness. Often times individuals lose sleep, cannot function in school or jobs, and eventually leaves a person feeling utterly worthless.
When it comes to suicide prevention, it’s important to know that suicide is the second-leading cause of death in young people ages 15-24, only to be surpassed by accidents. According to the U.S Center for Disease Control Prevention, more than 90% who die by suicide have a mental illness and/or substance abuse history, oftentimes with these risk factors working alongside each other. Luckily, because of the exponential rise of suicide, more action has been taken to increase prevention programs. They’ve been able to put a focus on school education programs, media guidelines, exercise, and crisis center hotlines. According to, The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, the current most effective suicide prevention programs equip mental health professionals and others in the community with resources to help people recognize those at risk and give the mental health care they need.
“Stop Suicide Today” is a suicide education program based in schools that have experienced significant success and an overall reduction in self-reported suicide. The website introduced what’s called an ACT message. Originally developed by Screening for Mental Health, ACT stands for Acknowledge, Care, and Treatment. This simple acronym creates an easily memorable tool that allows individuals to provide help and support to those in immediate distress. Acknowledging signs and risk factors when something looks or sounds troubling is the first step. Second, one needs to voice their concern with Care. Especially with depression, it can be hard for someone to realize that others around them care, so taking initiative to show your care and concern can go a long way. Finally, Treatment is the most important step. One cannot fully rely on friends and family for support so the best thing to do for a suffering individual is to get them in for an evaluation as soon as possible in order to get them the utmost care.
Overall, for those of you who are suffering out there, you are not alone. In a world so big with so much going on, it’s incredible how alone many of us can still feel. No matter what life circumstances come your way, just know that there are people out there who care. You are not alone.
- Achilles, J., Gray, D., Moskos, M. (2004). Adolescent Suicide Myths in the United States. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention. 25(4):176-182.
- Beautrais, A. (2005). National strategies for the reduction and prevention of suicide. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention.26(1);1-3
- Gould, M., Greenberg, T., Velting, D., Shaffer, D. (2003). Youth suicide risk and preventive interventions: A review of the past 10 years. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 42(4):386-405.